Jan. 16, 2009
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is proud to announce that Melvin Belong of Bethel (Tenn.) is the 2008 Brine-NAIA Men's Soccer National Coach of the Year while Lee (Tenn.) head coach Matt Yelton has received the received the 2008 Brine-NAIA Women’s Soccer National Coach of the Year award. The honors were officially announced on Friday (Jan. 16) at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Annual Convention in St. Louis.
A year after going 10-8-1 in his rookie campaign, second-year head coach Melvin Belong engineered one of the more improbable runs to the 2008 National Championship title. The 2008 season started off rough for BC as the team went 4-5-1. After a loss to No. 17 Berry (Ga.) on Oct. 4, Bethel got hot and maintained it through the title bout. At one point of the hot streak, BC did not allow a goal for six straight matches. Overall, the Wildcats finished the season 17-5-2 overall and ended the year on a 14 match unbeaten streak.
Belong is the first men's soccer coach from Bethel to earn this honor and first general to lead any Bethel program to the National Championship and win the hardware. He mentored Felix Obilo, a Brine-NAIA Second Team All-American, and Massimo Collu-Marchese, an Honorable Mention pick. Also, Mario Vila Boa was selected as the Offensive Player of the Championship and was also named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. His squad won the TranSouth Athletic Conference Championship with a 6-1 league record.
After posting a 17-1 regular season record, Lee won their seventh consecutive Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament title. In the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Tournament, Coach Yelton led the Lee Lady Flames to their first ever national championship title after defeating undefeated Concordia (Ore.) 3-0 in the Championship Final. The Lady Flames finished the season at 24-1-1. Yelton is now 136-27-4 in seven seasons as Head Coach at Lee.
Under Yelton’s leadership this season, Lee junior midfielder Christiane Christensen and freshman forward Jamie Achten were named NAIA First Team All-Americans. Junior Linn Christensen, the twin sister of Christiane, was named to the Second team, while junior midfielder Jenna Achten was an Honorable Mention selection.